Marching Bands and High School PE

  by Walter Brasch   The Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Neb., will not allow its students to substitute marching band for its requirement that students take three semesters of physical education. The proposal would save about $75,000 a year, according to the administration. But, the administration also said if the proposal was implemented it would negate the district’s emphasis on wellness and promoting physical fitness. There are two issues here. First, as almost everyone who ever was a member of a marching band knows, it’s physically challenging. Every member must not only march, sometimes at a rapid pace, but also read music, do maneuvers and play an instrument at the same time. Some parades are a mile; the Rose … Continue reading

A Large Problem for Circuses

    By Walter Brasch   By May, there will be no more elephants in the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus. The circus management had originally said it would cease using elephants by 2018, but revised its estimate by two years. Management said the cost to retire the elephants to the Ringling Brothers Center for Animal Conservation in Florida is less than it had first anticipated. The 13 Asian elephants on tour will join 30 others at the 200 acre facility, which has a $2.5 million annual budget. “Our family’s commitment to save the majestic Asian elephants will continue through our breeding program, research and conservation efforts at the Center,” said Alana Feld, executive vice-president of Feld Entertainment. P.T. … Continue reading

Blathering in Front of TV Cameras

    By Walter Brasch   Several TV networks covered the Rose Parade. ABC, NBC, RFD, the Hallmark network, and Univision had frequent interruptions to unleash commercials on us. The Home and Garden network ran the two hour parade uninterrupted—except for endless on-air self-promotion about HGTV and its programs. The networks had commentators who chatted with each other and seemed to spend more time enjoying being on air than in reporting the parade. They aren’t unusual. TV news—including parade coverage—has become more of a personality-based medium than a news medium. The Happy News TV anchors chat with each other. A few seconds here. A few seconds there. “With Tonight’s weather forecast is Susan Brown” has been replaced by: “Hey, Suze, … Continue reading

Christmas Again Wins the Annual War

    by Walter Brasch   The mythical War on Christmas is over and once again Christmas won. The war was created out of fairy dust, and then neatly wrapped up and delivered to religious right-wing extremists by pretend-generals Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of dozens who have seized the public airways. One of the battalion commanders is Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado. He introduced a resolution, which 35 other Republicans co-signed, that defends the holiday. That resolution calls for the House of Representatives to recognize “the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas,” to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas; [and] expresses support for the use of … Continue reading

Today’s Media: Often Pandering to Bias and Ignorance

  by Walter Brasch   The Texas board of education didn’t find anything wrong with a world geography textbook that said slaves from Africa were workers, but that immigrants from northern Europe were indentured servants. This is the same school board that five years ago demanded that textbooks emphasize that slavery was only a side issue to the cause of the civil war, and that Republican achievements be emphasized in political science and civics textbooks. For good measure, the officials also wanted a “fair and balanced” look at evolution versus intelligent design or creationism, and that global warming is only a theory, overlooking substantial and significant scientific evidence. Because Texas adopts textbooks for the entire state, and there is minimal … Continue reading

Blustery Donald Trump vs. The Quiet Christian

    by Rosemary and Walter Brasch   Before a cheering and whooping crowd in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Donald Trump, spewing the blustery rhetoric of a demagogue, declared that the United States should ban all Muslims from entering the country. He claimed to have Muslim friends who supported his position. He claimed that Muslims want “to change your religion.” He claimed that a poll, one created by an anti-Muslim extremist, showed that one-fourth of American Muslims believe violence against Americans is justified. With absolutely no proof to support his accusations, and significant evidence to dispute it, for more than six years he and those who follow his hate have claimed President Obama was born in a foreign country and is … Continue reading

Downsizing the News Media; Downsizing Quality and Credibility

      by Walter Brasch   (Part 2 of 2) For more than a decade, advertising, circulation, and news quality in both print and electronic media have been in a downward spiral. That spiral has twin intertwining roots. The first root is the rise of social media. The complacent and stodgy print media were slow to catch onto the concept and rise of social media and its influence upon a generation that conducts its life by a fusion of smart phones to ears. When owners figured out they needed to have a digital presence, they first gave away content in a desperate bid to keep readers, and then began to charge for it to those who didn’t have subscriptions. … Continue reading